ON THE BLOCKOld Y being readied for sale

Published 11:50 am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The owner of the old YMCA at Clay and Monroe streets is putting the 89-year-old building up for sale.

Mike Hayes of Nashville, who bought the building in 2000, estimated the selling price could run up to $500,000, though he has no potential buyers.

“I’m having a new roof installed on the building, and how much that costs will figure into the price,” he said.

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When Hayes bought the building, he planned to develop it into one- and two-bedroom condominiums. He said he’s not sure how a future owner would develop the 42,000-square-foot building.

“It’s a big building, and it could have a lot of uses by more than one person,” he said.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places as a part of Vicksburg’s National Register District, said Nancy Bell, executive director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

Built in 1923, it was funded by a gift from Fannie Willis Johnson, who gave the money in honor of her husband, Junius Ward Johnson for whom the building was named. It remained open for 79 years before closing in August 2002.

A second YMCA building, designated for area blacks during segregation, was given to the City of Vicksburg in the 1990s, razed and the Jackson Street Community Center was built on the site.

The Clay Street Y was replaced by a new facility at 267 YMCA Place off East Clay Street.

After Hayes bought the building, he allowed the YMCA to remain there until the new facility opened. The building was later the site of the Vicksburg Blues Museum, which opened in December 2002 and later closed.

In 2004, Keystone Ministries, a local Christian organization, offered to buy the building, but later decided to lease it. The ministry planned to restore the first two floors of the building for a restaurant, Christian book store and apartments. It wanted to use revenue from those activities to fund operations and renovations of the rest of the building.

The project fell through when Keystone could not afford to make repairs to bring the building up to city building codes.